The Washington Times - August 22, 2012, 09:55AM

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney each see Ohio as a key toss-up state in their presidential hopes, but super PACs and other outside groups are pouring huge sums of money into the down-ballot U.S. Senate race key to the GOP’s quest to regain control of the chamber in November.

The contest between incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown and his Republican foe, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, has seen more third-party spending than any other race in the nation. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that conservative and pro-business groups, such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have spent more than $11 million in anti-Brown advertising and plan to dump nearly $7 million more into the race before Election Day. Left-leaning groups from the environmental, labor and other sectors have spent $3.1 million in commercials attacking Mr. Mandel.

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Mr. Brown has maintained a single-digit lead over Mr. Mandel, but Republicans continue to view Ohio as fertile ground for an upset. Both campaigns also have raised significant amounts of cash, with Mr. Brown’s effort hauling in $15 million and Mr. Mandel’s collecting $10 million thus far.